An 80-year-old man has been jailed for manslaughter after strangling a young woman nearly half a century ago.
John Apelgren has been convicted after his DNA was flagged as a match in the historical case when he was cautioned for assaulting his third wife in 2019.
The case of Eileen Cotter’s death had been reopened in 2012 when DNA was extracted from her body and compared with a then-prime suspect who was ruled out.
Apelgren hit Ms Cotter, who was a sex worker, in the face and throttled her before throwing her body out of his car, the Old Bailey heard.
Her partly naked body was found on 1 June 1974 outside garages known to be a sex worker haunt.
The 22-year-old’s death in Islington, north London, came two years after Apelgren sexually assaulted an 18-year-old guest at his own wedding to second wife Ann in October 1972.
Prosecutor Alexandra Healy KC had told jurors the incident only came to light years later when police interviewed Ann Apelgren as part of the re-investigation into Ms Cotter’s death in 2012.
The trail went cold for seven more years until 2019, when former minicab driver Apelgren came to the attention of police for attacking his third wife.
He accepted a caution for the assault and his DNA was flagged as a match to the historical killing, which happened just six weeks after the birth of his first child with his ex-wife Ann.
She went on to reveal to investigators he had mistreated her too – and once applied force to her neck with both of his hands.
Apelgren, from Sydenham, south London, declined to give evidence in his trial.
He was acquitted of murder but found guilty of manslaughter and indecent assault.
On Friday, Mrs Justice May jailed him at the Old Bailey for 10 years for the killing and a further six months for the earlier assault to run consecutively.
Read more UK news:
Man guilty of murdering police officer
People smuggler admits killing 39 Vietnamese nationals
Ms Cotter’s death led to the breakdown of her parents’ relationship and her five-year-old brother Patrick Cotter was taken into care.
In his statement, he said: “No-one ever spoke to me about my sister’s death. I have no memory of her funeral.
“I have no idea where she was laid to rest… As a result of the traumatic event during my childhood I shut down emotionally. It’s made it difficult for me to form close relationships.
“I only have very faint memories of my sister but I believe she cared for me.”
He concluded: “To sum it up in simple terms, the impact of Eileen’s killing had on my life: I was not only deprived of a sister I had little time to get to know, the knock-on effect also meant I lost my mother to suicide and my father to mental illness and alcoholism, all brought about because John Apelgren took Eileen’s life.
“I would like to see justice for Eileen whose life was cruelly cut short 49 years ago.”